One student’s advice on milking the SCU experience for all it’s worth
Recently, senior Garrett Jensen, an accounting major/political science minor, attended one of the scores of on-campus events that he has been cramming into his final year at SCU. He saw a senior whose face he didn’t recognize. “I said to myself, ‘I’ve never seen you, how could that be?’” said Jensen.
It says something that Jensen is a student who could reasonably aspire to recognize just about every one of the 1,300 faces with whom he will be graduating this year. That’s because he takes justifiable pride in attending as many University events as he can, and has taken advantage of so many of SCU’s travel and program offerings that if there were an uber-Bronco award, he’d certainly have to be in the running.
In his four years at SCU, Jensen has taken advantage of three opportunities to travel abroad (to Turkey on a Global Fellows fellowship, Myanmar with the Food and Agribusiness Institute, and Ecuador as an immersion with the Ignatian Center); has gone to New Orleans on a second immersion; is a business-school Leavey scholar and member of the ACE program for top students; served as a student ambassador and business school peer advisor; helped create the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative at the business school (a class he’s taken for three consecutive years and plans to stick with after graduating); volunteers three nights a month as an EMT; was a senior class senator in ASG and chaired the Student Affairs Committee; was selected as a member of two honor societies, the Jesuit Alpha Sigma Nu and business Beta Gamma Sigma; won (with his teammates) the Ernst and Young 2012 case competition; is on the Senior Gift Committee; and was a regular attendee at virtually every high-profile event of the Solar Decathlon—just to show his support for a friend who was on the team. All while maintaining a 3.79 grade point average and being this close to landing his first job at an accounting firm.
FYI sat down with Jensen to find out his secret to milking the SCU experience for all its worth. He had some valuable tips:
*Be creative in finding financing for the things you want to do, and believe it can be done. Jensen’s family isn’t the Rockefellers, so he’s found a way to fund all of his travels with assistance. He says the Ignatian Center, Campus Ministry, and the Food and Agribusiness Institute each chipped in something to help him pay for his travels, and he learned that he could make $10 for every letter he wrote to donors through the Santa Clara Fund. (It helps that he inherited a fond tolerance for filling out paperwork and applications from his mom.) Connections from his work-study job at the High Tech Law Institute led to a nice-paying gig helping to proctor LSAT exams, too.
*Show up in support of University and peer events, and opportunities for yourself will arise. Business school dean Drew Starbird got used to seeing Jensen around at various events, so when opportunities to meet the local United Way CEO and an Ernst & Young partner came up, Starbird referred Jensen and another student. “I like being supportive of other people’s efforts and things they’ve spent a lot of time building,” he said.
*Don’t junk those campus flyers and emails. Jensen said he knows of a lot of students who mindlessly delete emails from campus officials, but he said he opens each one with a curious mind. That’s how he learned that the Food and Agribusiness Institute—with which he’d had no previous exposure—was taking students to Myanmar, which turned out to be one of the most interesting travels of his life. And he learned about the New Orleans spring-break immersion from a flyer in Sobrato.
*Embrace different experiences. Jensen learned about being an EMT from one of his fellow SCU ambassadors, and relishes not only the variety of medical issues it enables him to deal with, but also the friendships with fellow EMTs who are studying biology, chemistry, and engineering. “I love it because I don’t get to be around those people all the time otherwise,” he said. “I learn so much from them.”
*Appreciate where you are and what you have. Before he came to Santa Clara, Jensen didn’t really know much about Silicon Valley. Now, he says, “When I’m on the campus, I can really feel the ideas, the energy, and innovation of Silicon Valley.” He likes the written and group reflection exercises that are part of the Jesuit education because it forces him to remember not to rush through experiences like Ecuador, which he said was an amazing, fulfilling experience. He learned the value of such positivity from his dad, a sales executive who used to put affirming quotes in his lunch box each day, and now sends them via email.
“I love teams, I love collaboration and shared work,” said Jensen. But even in those rare cases when his family or others aren’t there to cheer him on, “If I want to do something, I’m doing it.”